Monday, 21 May 2012

The psychology of persuasion in behaviour change

 Thanks to @stuartberry1 and Steve Wardle, @desirableUX for finding this short video. 


It shows BJ Fogg talking about the psychology of persuasion in behaviour change.


Fogg talks about the importance of aligning three things:


- Trigger (the trigger for action)
- Ability (the person's ability to take the action)
- Motivation (enough reason to bother taking any action)


If any of these are missing, then a change in behaviour is unlikely to occur.


Fogg's formula fits with what our groups of people with diabetes told us when asked to tell stories about when they had changed their behaviour.


Triggers - the most common triggers for action and change described by our groups were experiencing symptoms, or having some other tangible evidence that something was wrong e.g. test results.


We want to change those triggers, so that people are taking action before there are any tangible problems i.e. so that they are preventing or limiting the negative impact of diabetes on their bodies.


So what triggers could we use that would become what Fogg calls 'hot' triggers? The suggestions that came from the groups centred around knowledge and understanding. When people were taking action to change their behaviour in order to prevent problems, they did so because they were clear about the benefits of acting or the consequences of not acting. 


For example amongst people with diabetes who go regularly for retinal screening (eye photos), the 100% motivation was their fear of losing their sight. They knew that diabetes can cause bleeding in their eyes and that that, left untreated, can cause blindness. So the message from the groups is 'be straight with us about the consequences of not changing our behaviour.' That knowledge and understanding provides both a trigger and a motivation.


Ability - The two groups were also clear about the importance of taking ability into account, when asking people to take action. It calls on health practitioners to have a good knowledge of the realities of life in the communities they serve; to have the humility to ask the person with diabetes what might work best for them and to listen carefully to their reply.


Motivation- This is one of the biggest challenges for people as they manage this disease. Diabetes is for the most part a long-term, chronic condition. People with diabetes describe the struggle they have over a long period of time to keep their motivation with regard to diet, exercise, taking medication and keeping all their health appointments. It would be good to know of any studies about what works.


Fogg's formula and the way it chimes with what was said by our two groups of people with diabetes, underlines once again just how much we can trust the contributions that patients/clients make to service design. 


This is especially true when that contribution has been made through a focused, deliberative process. As people deliberate together, their own views are changed and shaped by what they hear from others. Listening to others also sparks ideas and thoughts that otherwise would have remained undiscovered and undisclosed. 








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